work-related car accidents, San Jose personal injury attorneyWhen are injured in a work-related accident, many people assume that a workers’ compensation claim is their only way to get compensated for their injuries. However, California law allows you to pursue a claim against someone other than your employer if the other party's negligence caused or contributed to your injuries.

Role of Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury Claims

The workers’ compensation system was designed to help make sure workers were compensated for injuries sustained in the course of their employment and to protect employers from litigation. Under the workers’ compensation system you cannot usually sue your employer. The type of compensation you are able to collect is also limited.


As California workers may know, dust accumulation in a workplace environment may lead to an explosion when not monitored and and controlled. In a 25-year period ending in 2005, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board reported 281 combustible dust incidents that resulted in injuries to 718 workers and the death of 119.

Safe-handling procedures are important to lower the risk in environments where dust accumulates in the air. Combustible dust may accumulate in a number of work environments, including plants that work with sugar, wood, plastics, coal and pesticides. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, in 2008, an explosion of sugar dust in a plant in Georgia resulted in the deaths of 14 individuals. Industries that may be subject to dust accumulation include metalworking operations, agriculture, pharmaceutical manufacture, and chemical manufacturing plants.

Control of hazardous conditions created by the accumulation of dust in the work environment may result in safer working conditions. With inspections and air testing conducted as a form of preventive maintenance, there may be less likelihood that adverse events might occur. According to OSHA, when combustible materials enter the air as dust and are suspended, an explosion may occur if the right conditions and concentration is reached. This includes materials such as iron that do not normally burn in larger pieces.


Workplace accidents may not be the greatest public concern of California residents with regard to nursing care facilities, but worker safety and welfare is just as important as the well-being of the patients. OSHA announced its intention to more carefully monitor inpatient settings for worker safety concerns, especially in cases of facilities with high levels of reported accidents and employee illnesses related to work conditions.

Although health care injuries and illnesses might not seem as severe as issues like construction accidents, workers can face serious hazards in their handling of patients, medications and biomaterials. Moving patients can result in musculoskeletal injuries. Bloodborne pathogens, diseases such as tuberculosis, and germs like MRSA can also affect the health of workers. Workplace violence is a serious concern in these environments, while slips, trips and falls are common because of various activities in nursing homes. Hospital workers face similar hazards, which is why these areas are of particular concern to OSHA. A general duty provision addresses hazards that may not be clearly identified.

As OSHA intensifies its vigilance over inpatient facilities, it has also become more observant of similar issues in ambulatory health care facilities. The fines being assessed in some cases are more reflective of those normally levied against companies that have experienced fatality incidents. As this increased oversight plays out in the state and throughout the country, workers may find that employers become more receptive to complaints about safety violations.


California residents may have read about a deadly accident at Nebraska Railcar Cleaning Services in Omaha on April 14. Two employees died and another was hurt in the incident.

A major explosion occurred inside a railcar after a 41-year-old employee and a 45-year-old employee went inside of it to begin their work, even though it was known that the air quality within the railcar was dangerously close to causing an explosion. Once inside the railcar, the two workers, who were not adequately equipped with emergency rescue gear and proper respirators, were instantly killed in the blast.

After the deadly blast, officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted an investigation into each of the company's three locations. The company, which mainly cleans railcars that are used to haul items such as ethanol, gasoline, asphalt, pesticides and fertilizers, faces $963,000 in fines following those inspections. OSHA investigators reportedly found that the company failed to monitor and evaluate the air quality within the confined spaces of the railcars before and after employees entered them to do their work. They also discovered that the company failed to fit-test employees with respirators to keep them safe as they were inside the railcars. Among a list of other citations, OSHA officials stated that the company failed to implement safety training, committed electrical violations and failed to correct citations from 2013. The company was given 15 business days to respond to OSHA's penalties and citations.


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has recently released its annual list of the deadliest jobs in California and around the country. Compiled from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, the list looked at the 4,679 fatal work injuries that were recorded in 2014. There were 4,585 fatal work injuries reported in 2013, which means there was a 2 percent increase in 2014.

Of the 4,679 work-related fatalities in 2014, 4,251 of the deaths were in the private sector. The civilian occupations that were the most deadly in 2014 included logging workers, fishers and aircraft pilots and flight engineers. There were 77 fatal work injuries for loggers, 22 for fishers and those doing related fishing work and 81 for the pilots and engineers.

Other occupations with high rates of fatal injuries were refuse and recyclable material collectors, agricultural managers like farmers, steel workers and truck drivers. Those who work with electrical power lines and supervisors of construction workers finished at the bottom of the list. The data from the 2014 CFOI also revealed that government workers had fewer fatal work injuries while workers 55 years of age and older had the highest amount of fatal work injuries ever reported. There were 1,047 on the job accidents that led to fatalities for self-employed workers, and men accounted for 92 percent of those fatally injured on the job.

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